I was recently asked this question:
My church does not teach anything about talking to the Holy Spirit. What assurance can you give me as a Christian that this is the right path in our quest to have a close relationship to God. And why don’t churches talk about this kind of thing?
One of the foundational truths of the Christian faith – the one thing that unites all true believers is the belief that “Jesus is Lord”. In fact, to become a follower of Christ, to take on the name “Christian” means that you have decided to make Jesus the Lord of your life. You seek to follow His ways and let Him guide you in your daily decisions.
How did He say He would guide us? He’s no longer physically here on the earth where we can see Him. Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:12-13
In the New Testament, the word “Spirit” is used to refer to “the Lord”, to “God” and to “Christ” interchangeably, so it seems that the Spirit is the same as God or Jesus. Here are some Scriptures to illustrate this point:
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Romans 8:9
Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6
In fact, Peter says that it was the Spirit of Christ that spoke to the prophets of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament scriptures (I Peter 1:11).
From the dawn of creation, God is described as a Spirit.
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Genesis 1:2-3
Jesus affirmed this when speaking to the woman at the well in Samaria. He said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24
It seems pretty clear that the Spirit refers to God or Jesus so talking to the Holy Spirit is the same as talking to God or Jesus. Jesus said He would guide us through the Holy Spirit (aka the Spirit of Truth) so talking to Him would be an essential part of our guidance – at least in my opinion. When you are driving a car and the passenger says to you, “Turn right up there.” My natural reaction is to ask, “You mean here?” and point with my hand to confirm that I understood what they meant. Even though they are guiding me, I still sometimes need clarification and therefore I need to talk to them. It’s the same with the Lord.
When I was a little girl, someone told me, “Talk to Jesus every day – He’s your best friend.” And I thought to myself, “Well, if I talk to Him, He better talk to me too!” Even in my childlike understanding, I knew that relationships are a two-way street. Both parties need to communicate if there’s a relationship – if not, it’s just a monologue! How boring that would be!
When I chose to follow Christ, I was twelve years old. The very next day after this decision, I was walking to my locker at school and something made me mad. I said a curse word. Immediately, I heard in my heart, “You are a Christian now and Christians don’t talk that way.” Guess what? That was the Holy Spirit teaching me how to follow Christ. That certainly wasn’t my thought – it was completely foreign to my mind. I stopped immediately and thought to myself, “Yes, that’s right. I will no longer curse.” And I stopped using curse words – I was only a kid so the habit hadn’t really caught on yet. 🙂
Later that same “voice in my heart” told me to go to church. I went home and told my mother, “I want to go to church.” She said, “Okay, which one?” I had no idea so I took out the phone book and started looking for a church. I decided to go to one service of each different kind of church listed to see what they were like (Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, etc.). Finally, I decided to attend a small Presbyterian church where a friend from school was playing the piano.
The church told me, “Read your Bible.” So I did. I noticed that every story in the Bible was about people interacting with God. God spoke to someone and they responded and that became their story, as recorded in the Scripture. So I began to expect God to speak to me like He did to everyone else. There were no stories of God NOT speaking to people so I figured that was the normal experience of a follower of God.
Every day I talked to God and I expected Him to talk to me. Why not? He talked to lots of people in the Bible. It took me years to learn how He talks, but I did learn it. And you can too. Here’s a post that will help you with that, Look for Him – He’s right there.
There’s also a spiritual training course you can take called, “Developing a Close Relationship with God: A Simple Method” (http://tinyurl.com/Heart4God)
Each type of church has their own methods for how they encourage people in their connection with God. Some use ritual, some use stained glass, some use silence, some use music, some use preaching or teaching. Because we are all so unique, some methods will resonate more with you than with others. That’s okay. Find what works for you and pursue it! Ask God to show you how to draw close to Him and He will – I promise. He knows how to “speak your language” whether that is quiet meditation or loud, joyful music.
Do you talk to the Holy Spirit? I do – every day. What has your experience been? Feel free to share below – to encourage others who are just learning about this. 🙂
[By the way, there ARE churches that talk about this – they are usually called charismatic or Pentecostal. Look for one near you – it just might surprise you what you find there! If you need help finding one in your area, let me know and I’ll help you.]